Cookies in a Wok!

Every party that J and I had usually had a Mexican fiesta theme. It’s just so easy to make Mexican food in bulk and it was so tasty. Fajitas were popular, although my favorite was when I made fish tacos on one of my birthdays. Dee-licious! I think it was Emeril’s crème fraiche that took it to the next level. Bam! (Please note, I have only watched Emeril once. And not even a whole show. But I do recommend his fish taco recipe with accompanying sauces on foodnetwork.com.)

But you know what I took for granted? My oven. Yes, baker of cookies, roaster of meats, warmer of hors d’oeuvres, essential part of almost 80% of the recipes ever invented! “What,” you ask, “is in your Japanese kitchen since your whiny babiness is hinting that you don’t have an oven?”

“Well,” says I, ignoring the slightly snooty tone of my imaginary inquisitor, “I’m glad you asked. I have a fish broiler.”

A fish broiler is a shoebox-size broiler for fish that is just under my stove top range. I’m slightly afraid to use it not because I’m avoiding fish, but because it looks too tiny to clean. It also has a huge potential for a mess. I’m picturing charred fish skin and smoldering fish juice hardening on the bottom like a new level of fossilized rock.

Sue and I are hosting a Christmas party this Saturday at my apartment. It should be fun, but not having a car is testing my strategery skills at how to take things home in a way that will not cause my arms to break off from pain. This lesson was learned the hard way after I thought it would be awesome to transport a 12 piece pots-and-pans set from the Exchange to my house. Eleventy billion pounds later, I was having serious regrets. Although it is nice to have now.

So! Focus! What should I serve? So far, I have come up with meatballs and samosas. I’m also planning on cheese, crackers, fruit, hummus, pita, crudites. For dessert, Rice Krispie treats are doable but again, room in my little bag is precious and RKs are bulky. Snap! Krackle! Pop!

I can’t read Kanji!

All the buttons on my blog page are in Kanji and Hiragana. Awesome! I’m trying to figure out which one I’ll need to press to post this at all. Fingers crossed!

So, yay! I’m back in Japan! The Kitty Hawk came back a few days early after the Chinese government said, “X-nay on the isit-vay” over Thanksgiving. Yes, that’s right. It was pig latin. The last few days people were almost climbing walls we wanted to get off the ship so badly.

The first night, we went out to celebrate Ken the Dentist’s (aka Herbie the Elf) birthday. We went to Korean BBQ, which was delicious. This gave J another chance to make fun of me since he asks if I’ve done anything truly Japanese since I’ve been here. The reason being that I’ve been to Yokohama Octoberfest (5 times! Pictures and story to follow!), a Spanish restaurant, an Indian restaurant where I was told what I wanted (I didn’t want the chicken platter. I wanted lamb rogan gosh dammit), an Indian Dewali festival, and Chinatown. But they were all really fun. And I have had a few bowls of Udon noodles (so tasty!).

Now it’s tomorrow!

I crossed the International Date Line for the first time today/yesterday. I am still a little hazy on how it works, but I can definitely that if you look out of your window you will not see a dashed line streaking across the sky demarcating the different dates.

But I did see the line on the overhead TVs where the entire trip is played out on a nicely cycled sequence of 5 screens that give the current altitude and temperature in metric and conventional in addition to the time left in the trip and the time at the place of origin and destination. I think my favorite screen is the comically large airplane with a “Family Circus” style line showing the projected travel path.

So, now I’m in Guam waiting for the Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) plane to take me to the Kitty Hawk. I’ll write when I’m actually on the carrier although it might be a few days. Although I’ve already been told that today is drill day and it just so happens to be a mass casualty. Welcome aboard indeed!

Mile high!

I am in Denver visiting my friend M. K came out from NYC and the three of us have had so much fun. Friday night, I came in late because a 3 year old threw a tantrum like all get out because he didn’t want to sit in anyone’s lap. I don’t really blame him; how comfortable is it at 3 to be treated like a lap baby? He simmered down right before they were about to throw him off the plane.
So, I was picked up at the airport. We dropped my stuff out at the house, drank some wine, then went out to a wine bar. There, we bought the 2nd cheapest bottle of champagne (read: most popular), which led to another bottle and a cheese plate with very cute, very teeny pyramids of cheese with wee little flags telling us the cheese’s origin. Then we went home in quite good moods- everything was riotously funny to include someone’s overly aggressive car door opening method (not mine! seriously!).
The next day, the neighbor’s home improvement project started at 7 a.m. with metal carving for 2 hours. Sleep!over!now! We went hiking in the Flatirons and saw the Magic Arch. Then we went out to dinner to celebrate one of M’s friend’s birthday after we watched _Thank You For Smoking_, which was quite good. Afterwards, we went out to a crowded bar with an awesome rooftop deck.

Today, we went to the Rockies game, which was awesome b/c it meant I had the opportunity to be officially mile-high in Denver. I thought I already was, but apparently not since only the nosebleed seats made it above the esteemed altitude.

Tomorrow, it’s back to San Diego for about 18 hours before I fly out to Guam. I’ll leave for the ship on the 2nd via COD (Carrier onboard delivery) by a C-2 greyhound.

Graduation!

Boat school is over! Today was graduation with a certificate attesting that I earned 66 CME credits. Yay! This is something that I didn’t care about at all until very recently, when I learned that CME is how you keep your state license. Prior to that, I thought it was something I would only have to worry about when I became board-certified. BTW, that will be in about a hundred billion years.

Tomorrow, I am going to the hospital to attend morning education lectures and to talk/interview with the program director for the SD residency. It’s more for information so that I can make a more informed choice when applying for GME-2. Also, Bethesda will definitely undergo some big changes with the BRAC and combining of the hospitals. Although people say it will be the biggest and greatest, I definitely have some doubts as to how high a priority a little ol’ 2012 ENT chiefie will be in the grand scheme of things. And although I’m used to being somewhat low on the totem pole (HELLO internship year!), I think it would stink to have procedure numbers affected while bigger battles are being fought.

San Diego Favorites

I’m not much of a “best ever!” person, but I definitely can be coaxed into making a favorites list. I have had a great time in San Diego, which will soon be over. So, from both this visit and previous ones…

Point Loma Seafood
My younger younger brother showed me this one. Unfortunately when we went, it was closed. But this place has the best seafood sandwiches and platters. They fry all the fish though, so it’s not J’s favorite place but yum! It is so good. The last two times I’ve been, I’ve gotten the Alaskan Haddock sandwich. So, so good.

Bogart Yogurt
J’s stepsister brought us here. The first time I went, I got something chocolate/coffee-ish. But it was instant love when I looked at J’s choice. A berry flavor mixed in with vanilla. I’ve gotten that combo a few times since and it is so good.

Extraordinary Desserts
I haven’t been back this visit but the cakes are so elaborate and delicious. They look like works of art. One time, one of the bakers almost dropped one while transferring it to the display case. We both looked at each other thinking that she was extremely lucky. It could have ended badly. The slices, BTW, are impossible to finish and always decorated with a delicious complimentary (in flavor) sauce swirl.

Surfside Sushi
Half-price roll night, HALF-PRICE ROLL NIGHT!! Oh crunchy roll, I love you. Your questionable deliciousness as a plain roll (imitation crab, say what?) is wiped away in an avalanche of crunchy goodness in the form of fried tempura batter covered in special sauce. Oh, crunchy roll, I whisper sweet nothings to you.

The Mission
The Rosemary Mission egg platter and strawberry-banana pancakes are delicious. Another place I haven’t been to this visit, but oh so tasty.

Torrey Pines
What, no more food? Torrey Pines is gorgeous. I’ve run the trails there a few times and the views are gorgeous and the windswept sand cliff are at once sturdy and precarious.

Coronado Beach
It’s a hike to the water, but a beach not under imminent erosion threat and with beautiful sand holds a place in my heart. It’s also where I devoured most of the Harry Potter book. I know how it all ends!

Cabrillo National Monument
J and I went here last time we were here. It has a seemingly infinite view with rock and sand cliffs. It is so gorgeous and untamed I loved being there. To top it off, we saw a school of dolphins right off the coast. Ridiculously postcard.

Hello!

Sitting in my BOQ room, I realize that if I lived here for an extended period, I could comment extensively on weddings. Right behind the BOQ (ambience!) there’s actually a beautiful water view and a lot of couples take advantage of it. Even on Wednesdays! The topic I have the strongest feelings about is the toast. Unfortunately the AC outside my window kicks in when I’m most interested in eavesdropping on whatever train wreck is being broadcast through the microphone. Tonight’s winner was definitely the uncle toasting his “favorite niece.” His theatrical vocal inflection begged for laughter at certain lines. Unfortunately, no one did. And this was a crowd that laughed uproariously at other toasts. I guess a fourth-hand recounting of the engagement story didn’t tickle anyone’s funny bone.

What am I doing in my BOQ room? Typing (← that’s about as funny as the uncle). After going out the past few weeks with visitors and hanging out with friends, this is the weekend that I am all alone! Which is totally manageable, but no cool Saturday night things popped up so I decided to organize my things. *Yawn* The main motivation for this is to make 110 pounds of essential things somehow magically consolidate into 50 pounds, give or take. But I can’t help the fact that I’m taking tons of uniforms with accompanying shoes. And important! documents! that could not simply be packed for the identity thieves to steal. Plus, I do have some normal people clothes, make-up, shoes, and other things that turn into lead once I zipper the bag shut.

I am in a state of disgusting over-packedness because I am soon headed to the Western Pacific to meet up with the ship I will be a GMO (general medical officer). There I will take all my mad inpatient skills of pain control, crazy potent antibiotics, fever work-ups, and the occasional surgery and toss them overboard in favor of a potpourri of outpatient clinic visits with lots of ortho and GYN complaints. Nice. I’ve definitely changed the focus of my nightly reading and it’ll be a challenge but I’m really excited.

After about 2 months afloat, I’ll be in Japan. I can’t wait. It is something so totally new that I want to preserve the feeling of complete and total disorientation. Hopefully, I’ll adapt and make a life of my own among the newness. At the same time, I definitely want to avoid glamorizing, idealizing, or exoticizing the unfamiliar. I want to minimize the observation by the artist Vik Muniz, “So much of what we see is based on what we already know.” I want to remove the distorting lens and filters of my previous experience. Which is completely and totally impossible. Oh, the tension! It warms my religion major’s soul. A little liberal arts trained thinking during my most operational experience yet? Sweet!